Super storm's effects reach Lake Country
East Coast storm affects Waukesha County
In case you needed proof of the world's interconnectedness, "Frankenstorm" Sandy that battered the East Coast this week has shown that even Wisconsin feels some of the effects of a storm so far away.
Gale warnings were in effect along Lake Michigan this week, and the National Weather Service (NWS) reported waves as high as 22 feet rocked the lake.
NWS meteorologist Rudy Schaar noted that the strong wind gusts experienced in the area on Tuesday - including Lake Country - were a direct result of the storm hundreds of miles to the East. He said the area saw sustained wind gusts of more than 20 miles per hour, and strong gusts of up to 38 miles per hour along Lake Michigan.
Saying the state was "hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst," Gov. Scott Walker said he would deploy the state's National Guard to help affected areas if needed.
Not only were high waves pummeling Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shoreline, but local travelers trying to head east were stuck here when airlines canceled flights to destinations up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
Katelyn Welsh, 23, of Nashotah, was one of those travelers stuck in Wisconsin as a result of the storm.
Welsh, who works for Liberty Mutual in Boston, made her first trip home to Lake Country last weekend to visit friends and family. Her flight out of Milwaukee back to Boston on Monday was canceled. Her office in downtown Boston ended up closed anyway, so she just logged in and worked from home.
"At about 3 p.m. on Sunday I found out it was canceled, so I rescheduled," she said. "I'm supposed to fly out tonight (Tuesday), and at this point it looks like it's still scheduled. But I'm not sure, because obviously it can change."
Welsh said she considered flying out earlier Sunday, but flights were already getting canceled. She said that as long as she has an Internet connection, working from home is not much of an inconvenience. In fact, her delay turned out for the best. She spent the extra time at home visiting friends and family.
"I actually got to see my grandparents, which I wasn't going to be able to do because they were busy. So that was really nice to be able to do," she said.
She added, "So that was kind of a blessing in disguise to be able to spend a little bit more time at home. Of all the places to be stuck, being stuck at home really isn't the worst."
In preparation for fall and winter storms, Generac Power Systems, headquartered in North Prairie, often increases its production of generators around this time of year, but in the wake of Sandy, Generac has been running its distribution center 24 hours per day and approved overtime for many employees.
"Right now it's all hands on deck supporting the East Coast," said Generac Public Relations Specialist Art Aiello.
The demand began last Thursday as the nation prepared for the storm to make landfall. "We do know that these things do affect demand, so we try to plan accordingly, as we know storms are likely to hit," Aiello said.
Three shifts are being run at Generac's distribution center in Whitewater to get generators to retailers on the East Coast. Aiello said that the company is evaluating its manufacturing inventory, and might run additions shifts on some lines to make sure the company can meet demands moving forward.
Generac didn't have an exact number of generators it has sent East, but Aiello said it was in the tens of thousands.
The company deployed three crews to the East Coast on Oct. 30, and is coordinating offers of assistance from other Generac dealers not in the affected areas.
"We are working feverishly to help support consumers on the East Coast with their backup power needs," said Aiello.
How you can help
The American Red Cross is one of several groups aiding Sandy victims. Patty Flowers, regional CEO for Eastern Wisconsin said that more than 300 blood drives were canceled on the East Coast due to the storm, which equates to around 9,000 units of blood and plasma. Help keep up the nation's supply of blood by giving blood through the American Red Cross.
People can also assist through financial donations by calling (800) REDCROSS, visiting redcross.org, or by texting "RedCross" to 90999, you can make a $10 donation which appears on your cell phone bill.
"The financial donations are so important because we have so much that has to happen out there," said Flowers.
The Salvation Army has been assisting Sandy victims by providing food and water, emotional/spiritual care, counseling and helping families locate their loved ones who might be at a different shelter. They also provide cleanup kits,first-aid supplies and communications support.
Donors are encouraged to give online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling (800) SAL-ARMY (800-725-2769). You can also text the word "STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word "Yes."
To volunteer, register at www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org. Disaster service training is a prerequisite for volunteering in a disaster zone, and not all registered volunteers will be called on to serve.
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